Commission Proposes Customs Overhaul

The European Union wants to streamline customs rules for imports and exports with an electronic system that is predicted to boost trade by $59 billion a year. The European Commission, the E.U. executive agency in Brussels, proposed that customs filings be submitted electronically in a common format by 2009. The system would integrate customs, security, and animal and environmental controls at the border to let companies ship goods anywhere to or from the 25-nation bloc under a single filing by 2012.


Rioting Weakens Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence fell to an eight-year low during France's suburban rioting, despite a steady decline in the jobless rate, official data revealed. National statistics agency INSEE said its main consumer-sentiment index fell to minus-33 points this month, its lowest level since 1997, from minus-30 in October. Economists had predicted a slide to minus-32.

The survey was carried out between Nov. 2 and Nov. 21 while the social unrest was at its height and before labor ministry data Tuesday showing that unemployment fell to 9.7 percent in October -- its lowest since May 2003.


RIM to Introduce BlackBerry in Latin America

Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry portable wireless device, said it plans to launch BlackBerry service in 13 Latin American countries in a partnership with Telefonica Moviles, the wireless unit of Spain's telecommunications giant Telefonica.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Matsushita to Close Plants in Ohio, Germany

Matsushita Electric Industrial, maker of Panasonic and other consumer electronics items, said it plans to shutter facilities in Germany and Ohio that make display devices used in large-screen televisions, as the growing popularity of flat screens has hurt demand.

Matsushita, which is based in Japan, said it will close its MT Picture Display of America business in Troy, Ohio, and its MT Picture Display business in Germany by March 31, the end of its fiscal year.

The Ohio plant employs 727 workers, and the German plant has 605 employees.


Harrah's to Build Vegas-Style Casino in Spain

Harrah's Entertainment said it is partnering with a Spanish developer to build a Las Vegas-style casino-hotel near a medieval city south of Madrid.

El Reino de Don Quijote de La Mancha and Las Vegas-based Harrah's said the complex will feature an 850-room luxury hotel, a Vegas-style casino, a 3,000-seat theater, golf courses, swimming pools and a shopping mall.

The complex will be built on a 29-acre site near Ciudad Real, a city of about 65,000 people.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.